7 Best Workout Music Genres

Working out while listening to music

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People listen to all kinds of music in the gym. We can’t definitively say one gym music genre is more beneficial than the other, because music is highly subjective. We all have unique tastes. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have strong opinions. These are the seven best workout music genres that will get you fired up and dialed in for your next training session.

What We Look For in Workout Music

Regardless of our taste in music, most of us look for the same qualities when creating our workout playlists:

  • Fast-paced songs
  • Heavy bass
  • Passionate and/or explicit lyrics
  • Timely beat drops

The sex of the vocalist also plays a role. Male and female singers can be equally passionate or explicit, but male voices have a wider range and thus dominate most of the genres we will discuss. 

Now that we’ve established some prerequisites, let’s get into the seven best workout music genres for all listeners.

1. Rap

Rap is the most fitting genre for workout music, embodying all of the qualities mentioned above. The songs have quick beats and runtimes with noticeable baselines, getting our heart rates up. The prevalence of drums and other percussion instruments also helps us get into a rhythm, which can help with certain exercises.

Rap songs tend to be vulgar and provocative, with topics about drugs, sex and violence. Yes, they might be inappropriate and offensive, but they help us tap into our primal instincts. The vast majority of rap artists are also males, which makes the lyrics sound that much more intense. The song’s message might not always be positive, but rap leads to positive results in the gym.

7 Best Workout Music Genres: a man running while listening to music

2. EDM

Electronic dance music (EDM) has an even faster pace than most rap songs, with some deafening baselines to boot. This high-energy music will get your heart pumping faster than any other genre. 

The only downside is that some songs have hectic and unpredictable melodies, which can make it more difficult for you to get into a rhythm. However, EDM makes up for its chaotic nature by having some of the most exhilarating bass drops of any genre.

Many EDM songs also don’t have lyrics, but this trait usually works in the genre’s favor. With so many moving parts in the song, sometimes it’s better to remove the lyrics and allow the listener to focus on the instruments. 

3. Pop

Pop is the most popular music genre in the world right now, but that’s not why it made the list. The music is upbeat and catchy, so it’s easy to listen to in the gym. You can just zone out and let the songs envelop you.

The lyrics to pop music also tend to have positive messages, helping to motivate and inspire people to power through a tough workout. The pop songs that don’t have positive lyrics are usually about romantic troubles, which can be even more motivational if you’re going through a rough patch in your love life.

4. Hard Rock

Hard rock is the best workout music in the overall rock genre. It combines classic rock, blues, heavy metal and pieces of other genres into a blissfully intense sound that’s perfect for the gym. It can be a difficult genre to define at times, but you know it when you hear it. The bands range from Led Zeppelin to Slipknot, with the same gritty sound existing across the spectrum.

Hard rock lyrics also tend to have some dark themes, such as war and depression. These morbid topics make for great emotional fuel in the gym. If you’re getting ready for a heavy set, hard rock is the genre you want.

A man lifting weights at the gym while listening to music

5. Classic Rock

Classic rock is a notch below hard rock in terms of intensity, but the genre’s passion and artistry is on a whole different level. Many people say the best time period for music was the 70s and 80s when classic rock was by far the most popular genre. It continues to resonate with people, which is why it remains the most popular radio genre.

Another reason classic rock is one of the best workout music genres is the familiarity. There are too many hit songs to count. Having some familiar songs in your workout playlist helps you focus on the task at hand.

6. Heavy Metal

If you’re looking for something deafening and incoherent, heavy metal is the genre for you. It’s the loudest music genre on the list and the lyrics are often incomprehensible, but that’s the idea. The music is supposed to be edgy, boisterous and rebellious. These strong emotions can boost your performance in the gym, even if you don’t understand the lyrics.

A man listening to music while working out at a boxing gym

7. R&B

R&B is quite different from the other genres on the list. It’s not particularly fast or upbeat, and there aren’t any notable bass drops. So what makes R&B one of the best workout music genres? The rhythm. No genre is as smooth and charismatic as R&B. It will have you dancing and singing in the middle of the gym. It’s also highly romantic, as a bonus.

Update Your Gym Music Playlist

Your workout playlist probably has a fair share of rap, pop and rock songs. Don’t forget about the other genres though! Ultimately, your gym music genre choice will come down to personal taste. Explore new sounds and constantly update your playlist so you always have something new to listen to in the gym.

Originally posted 10/14/2022 — Updated 11/24/2023

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